Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Federal Elections 2016

Al Eileh ani bokiyah, eini eini yordah mayim, ki rachak mimeni menachem, meishiv nafshi, hayu banai shomeimim, ki gavar oyeiv (Eikha 1:16) 

For these things I weep, for water streams from my eyes, because respite is out of reach to restore my soul, my children are desolate because the enemy overcame us. 

This text from Eikhah, the Book of Lamentations, captures how many of us are feeling right now, after the Federal elections on Tuesday. So what are we to make of this horrid result? Do we give up hope and quit? 

Many have considered suicide since the results, and at the Trans Lifeline, we’ve been extremely busy with desperate people needing help. 

In Pirkei Avot, the Ethic of the Sages, the last section of the Talmud, we find that “We are not required to finish the work, but neither may we desist from it. Never before have we needed to do so much important work. So… what can we do? 

In the new government that will be installed in January, there is one glimmer of possibility. The GOP got 51 seats in the Senate. That is a majority. BUT… a cloture or filibuster requires 60 votes to end, and the GOP doesn’t have that. 

So all of us need to be constantly in touch with our senators, from all parties, to ensure that they hear our message. Don’t confirm extremists on the Supreme Court or other Federal Benches, don’t pass Tea Party laws, or discriminatory policies that would undo years of progress in the US. 

So we need to keep hammering that message home. Leviticus 19:14 teaches that we cannot put a stumbling block before the blind. As is discussed in my workshop at Transkeit, this means to not give bad advice or prevent people from living. This text applies to Christians and Jews alike. So even if your Senator is Christian, they still need to hear this message from you, to remind them of their obligations. This is particularly true when they make a big deal about their Christianity. 

Further, do not lose sight of the fact that there will be another Congressional election in November 2018. So it’s not the four or eight year death sentence everyone is imagining. This means that over the next two years we all need to work very hard to get progressive, open, equality minded people elected to ALL political offices. We can’t do as many did this time, thinking “Oh Trump won’t get elected, so we can just coast…” That is part of what got us into this mess. 

Remember that the rabbis teach that we are not to desist from the work. In some of the darkest days of the Intifada between Palestine and Israel, Israeli pop artists performed a song entitled “Yesh Od Tivkah” - there is Still Hope. So please don’t give up, don’t crawl into a dark space never to be seen again. Many of us want to do that right now, but never before have we been needed as much as we are today. 

So rather than talking any more, lets listen to and sing/hum along with Reb Shlomo Carlebach as he sings the song that began this drash.